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Thread: Track Day at Silverstone UK Formula 1 Grand Prix Circuit

  1. #1
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    Default Track Day at Silverstone UK Formula 1 Grand Prix Circuit

    Last Monday, I found a convenient excuse to get to Silverstone Circuit in the UK to participate in a track day. For some reason Continental/United/Rubbish Airlines would not allow me to take a seven onto the plane as hand luggage so I rented a Caterham Seven SV R300 race car from Bookatrack.com. This website allows you to see nearly all track days being offered around the UK by the various operators and at the various circuits and then book your place, rent your car, hire a helmet and schedule instruction online. I found it an extremely dangerous way to spend lots of money.


    What I did not know is that it was not like a normal track day. It was more like a race car test day with some very professional cars and drivers out there testing and getting practice. There was some seriously expensive pieces of equipment and supporting operations here. Talk about jumping back into tracking cars at the deep end. I felt like I was in a very small minority of drivers not wearing race overalls and the full monogrammed helmet, shoes, nomex balaclava, etc. Street clothes did not look the part in this crowd. To say I was nervous is an understatement.


    Registration was simple – they did not even ask for my license. Then it was the drivers briefing which was comprehensive and well done with suitable words of warning. The key rules:
    - Open pit lane
    - Pass only on straights. No passing under brakes. Pass only on the left once the car has moved over to the right.
    - If stuck behind a slower car do not melt his rear bumper with your headlights while waiting for him to get through his cornering line.


    Hmmm….I think I was the only one who bothered to listen and remember this. Must be since the red mist descended over most drivers at 9am when the lights went green!


    The Bookatrack crowd were professionally set up with 6 cars – 5 were the R300 180hp Duratecs of which 3 were regular sized sevens and 2 were SV’s. There was a 6th K-engined classic which stayed on the trailer all weekend – I think I heard mutterings of frequent head gasket failure. It was really cool to be using a pit garage that you know on July 8-10 will be used by McLaren, Ferrari, Williams or some other team at the British Grand Prix.





    I scored the lucky 7 car. While it is a race car living an abused life from a bunch of rent-a-hackers (like me!), it never let me down all day, despite my abuse and my little mishap, more of which later. Being a race car there was an aeroscreen, no indicators, headlights, brake lights etc. It came with the standard 3.62 diff and the standard 6 speed Caterham gear box. Exhaust was standard as Silverstone has a 105db sound limit. Full cage was fitted along with the CSR version Tillets (which I fitted into comfortably for the record!). Tires were street CR500s.








    The walk down pit lane was excellent - some seriously rapid pieces of machinery. The money was clearly evident. I passed what must have been a group of bankers talking loudly about their diamond encrusted Rolex watches. I would have more accurately described them as "wankers" (google at your risk).


    A smattering of Lotus 211s:
    Last edited by Croc; 02-03-2018 at 05:03 PM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  2. #2
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    A Juno:



    A Porsche GT3 RS in a really nice color scheme I had not seen before.



    A top line Radical race team – one of at least 10 running around.



    Here is another Radical with the nose cone removed. Given the highly stressed engine I counted at least 3 blowups during the day as the pace lunched the motors.
    Last edited by Croc; 02-03-2018 at 05:06 PM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  3. #3
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    There were a few other sevens – a race Westfield, an orange and carbon Caterham Superlight and this well driven Caterham K-engined car:




    A Palmersports JP LM



    Ferrari series race car. Neat jacking system:



    Last edited by Croc; 02-03-2018 at 05:08 PM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  4. #4
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    The ladies were well represented – here is a Fiat 500



    In the ‘are you for real’ category, there were a brace of little Smart cars. The engine was transplanted with a Hayabusa bike engine. I believe the gearbox was also changed over. So they now had a little more than the original 3 gear semi-auto thing which was Slow, Slower and Even Slower. On the track I found them fairly rapid in a straight line which was disconcerting when I wanted to pass. Cornering looked like a horrifying new way to die as they are so top heavy. I also half expected them to tumble roll forward under braking.
    Last edited by Croc; 02-03-2018 at 05:09 PM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  5. #5
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    The Silverstone circuit was modified in 2009/2010 to lengthen it for F1:




    What the track map does not show is how staggeringly fast this circuit really is. It is massively wide and really suits power cars with a high top end speed. So a Seven was never going to be well suited to this track as it just does not keep up with the more fancy exotic cars with top end speed. Mostly I was in 5th or 6th gears and letting the torque work for me except for dropping down the gears at Vale, Village Corner and the Loop. Some of the corners were just bendy straights. For example, at the end of Pit Straight, saw me at redline in 6th gear, you tap the brakes very briefly to get enough weight on the nose to turn in without understeer and then instantly back on full throttle driving through the corner. It was so wide on the exit that I could have gone faster had I more power. Continuing down to the esses of Maggots/Becketts/Chapel you would think you need to slow down more than you really have to. In reality it was full speed late entry into Maggotts, brake on exit of Maggots to turn right, run way out left and hug the inside line through Becketts with a tap again on the brakes for the apex, keeping it on the left to give you a wide right entry and the straightest possible exit to build up speed leading on to Hangar Straight. It was not the intuitive racing line for me. My instructor taught me that this was the fastest line and it was noticeable that I easily caught the very fast cars through these corners if I used his recommended line and the other cars were doing the traditional in/out cornering line.


    Stowe corner was another fast one. I ended up taking it in 5th gear simply because I would be hitting the rev limit in 4th before the apex. Vale and Club Corner were satisfying when you stitched them together right as the exit out of Vale set you up in one smooth corner where you were accelerating through the whole way. You would not want to mess up Club Corner though as overcooking the exit would spin you into the new pit wall on the right with no room for error.

    Abbey corner was a brief tap on brakes to settle the car and then full throttle through. The width of the track on the exit is something like 6-7 cars wide so I never could run out of room no matter how fast I went through. The bigger issue for me was the turn in with high speed understeer on entry if I tried to go through too fast. The corner was fairly safe to experiment so I tried a few no taps on the brakes in 5th and then 6th to see if I could get the car through quicker but it came back down to no go – I needed the brake tap to turn the car in with some precision and I simply did not have the power to use the all the road available on exiting the corner.

    I was always finding the rev limiter in 6th on Pit Straight and Hangar Straight which translates to 135mph area.

    Given the big money cars there, I was in the bottom half of the group for slowness. Speed differential was a major issue. You had the few pedestrian cars – a Ford Focus hatch, BMW 5 series wagon (I think it was a diesel!), Alfa hatch thing, then there were the classic race cars of a couple of Alfas, a few 180-200hp area Sevens before heading up to high end Porsche GT3s and then up to full on race cars like Juno/Radical. I would look in the mirror and see nothing only to suddenly glance again to see a Radical in full flight trying to pass me. They were so fast they came from nowhere.

    Naturally, the “red mist” of racing had descended on many of the drivers so despite the safety briefing of no passing in corners, no burning up the rear bumpers of slow cars with flashing high beams (yep – some cars were good for this and I can confirm it is unsettling to your driving), it became a bit of a free for all. At one point I turned left into the apex of The Loop only to find a Renault Megane very hot hatchback had decided to pass me on the inside and I ended up all messed up trying to avoid hitting him. Next lap while following the Renault, I saw him and a Radical simultaneously passing a Miata three wide on the outside line through Village Corner. I had a personal near miss when the Mercedes SLR race car worth about $500,000 (pic below) decided to late pass me then have a maybe/maybe not moment with passing the slower car ahead into Farm corner which freaked out that driver to slamming on his brakes. So the Merc jumped on his brakes in front of me. Visions of fat assed Mercs were horrifyingly close as I locked up trying to avoid the now two slow cars suddenly presented to me. With 600-700 hp he disappeared 2 seconds later.

    Last edited by Croc; 02-03-2018 at 05:09 PM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  6. #6
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    The casualty count was not as bad as it should have been. A Porsche 911 lunched the gearbox on the exit of Chapel leading onto Hangar straight which shut the track to clean up 200-300 yards of oil. A few Radicals blew up engines – one in front of me. A Porsche GT3 late passed me on Pit Straight only to muff his braking into Copse Corner and go straight ahead into the kitty litter (gravel trap) and bury himself up to the axles. There were a few red flags to close the track and pick up the mess/broken thing. I took the time to slow down and follow a lovely restored Alfa Guiletta sedan historic race car for 2 laps. The various wheel angles and drifting style were a joy to study. Mobile chicane award went to a superseded model Nissan Skyline GTR. Even I was passing it on the straights.


    Regrettably, with so many fast cars, I too descended into red mist land trying to keep up with the faster cars on slicks. I followed a Radical through Maggots and Becketts just in awe of how flat and quick the car was. I then tried chasing a Ferrari 430 race car on slicks into Stowe. Unfortunately I was on CR500s. To keep up I thought I would brake a little less and carry a higher gear through the corner to avoid having to change part way through. Dumb move. Too sudden on turn in, car was unsettled, the tail got light, I tried to stop it was full throttle but it was all too late and I was off for a ride. Recalculating the speed from the RPM shift lights showed that I was around 115mph when I lost it and spun it a few times before ending up on the grass at the apex. My tire marks were fairly prominent on what was until then nice manicured grass. I am looking forward to seeing them on TV in 2 weeks when the F1 race is held.


    Due to my stupidity with the video camera there is no footage to share. However there I bought the photo set of me on the day that flatters my ego.
    Just before the last apex in Vale:





    Following the Ferrari, this was me just before spinning… The red box on the track in front of the Ferrari is actually the front cycle wing and stanchion off a seven!





    No idea where I am here.




    Out for a Sunday drive with my instructor. Street clothes look so wrong. I should have also brought my gloves.



    Last edited by Croc; 02-03-2018 at 05:12 PM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  7. #7
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    Turning into Copse Corner at the end of Pit Straight.



    And I think this was entering Chapel corner. I have a serious love affair with the Alfa behind me – absolutely beautifully restored race car.
    Last edited by Croc; 02-03-2018 at 05:13 PM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  8. #8
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    I enjoyed the day so much that I am exploring going to Spa with Bookatrack as I have always wanted to experience that circuit. Then there is Monza and....
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  9. #9
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    Croc---your pictures are awesome --- jthx

  10. #10
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    Looking good Mike. Just make sure your red mist problem doesn't come back with you. I promise I'll point you by... Just watch for the middle finger.

    See you Sunday.

    Tom
    Mangia bene, Ridi spesso, Ama molto, Guidare veloce

    2000 Caterham Superlight #123
    1.8L VHPD Rover K Series
    2009 Caterham SV
    2.3L Cosworth Duratec

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